The tang of bitter adrenaline sits barely swallowed from a short but intense drive in a Ferrari 458 Spider up a bumpy mountain road, and with a nervous system so aggressively rewired that my heart appears to be ringing and my ears pumping, it’s hard to imagine that anything can better the wanton nuttiness of a naturally aspirated Ferrari V8 at nine thousand revolutions per minute, unfettered by a roof.
But then I slip into the ergonomic masterpiece that is the cabin of the McLaren 12C Spider, drive the same road with the same level of commitment, have to reswallow my own lungs, and decide that nothing beats that either. Uh oh. It should be simple.
After all, it’s the question that raises its head at the end of any head-to-head car battle, the one that asks - should the lottery numbers miraculously align on Saturday night - which one would you choose? Which, when you take into account the whole panoply of abilities, is best? But this time, sat on a rock above the terrifyingly expensive real estate of Monaco, at the end of a wiggly little ribbon of badly maintained French road, I’m stumped. The McLaren 12C Spider and Ferrari 458 Spider are so finely matched, both so insanely brilliant, that in this particular fight, I’m the one that’s ended up punch drunk and incapable of deciding. It’s like trying to choose your favourite thumb.
Pictures: Justin Leighton
This feature first appeared in Top Gear magazine